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Project Censored’s Top 10 stories the mainstream media missed in 2019

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5. Modern slavery in the United States, around the world

An estimated 403,000 people in the United States were living in conditions of "modern slavery" in 2016, according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, or GSI, about 1% of the global total. The GSI defines "modern slavery" broadly to include forced labor and forced marriage.

Because forced marriage accounts for 15 million people, more than a third of the global total, it's not surprising that a majority of the victims are female (71 percent). The highest levels were found in North Korea, where an estimated 2.6 million people — 10% of the population — are victims of modern slavery.

The GSI is produced by the Walk Free Foundation, whose founder, Andrew Forrest, called the U.S. figure "a truly staggering statistic, (which) is only possible through a tolerance of exploitation."

"Walk Free's methodology includes extrapolation using national surveys, databases of information of those who were assisted in trafficking cases, and reports from other agencies like the UN's International Labour Organization," explained The Guardian, to compile its figures.

There are problems with this, according to others working in the field, The Guardian noted. There's no universal legal definition, and tabulation difficulties abound. But the GSI addresses this as an issue for governments to work on and offers specific proposals.

"The GSI noted that forced labor occurred 'in many contexts' in the US, including in agriculture, among traveling sales crews, and — as recent legal cases against GEO Group, Inc. have revealed — as the result of compulsory prison labor in privately owned and operated detention facilities contracted by the Department of Homeland Security," Project Censored noted.

Newly restrictive immigration policies have further increased the vulnerability of undocumented persons and migrants to modern slavery.